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Author Topic: Bubba Keg Refurb  (Read 176 times)
lunchman
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« on: September 05, 2018, 10:26:26 AM »

Hello All,

It's been a while since I've posted here. I'm working on grill cleanup and downsizing of things I no longer need. The Bubba Keg was working its way onto the list. The body is discolored and there's rust under the lower vent and on the stand. I figured taking it apart to survey the damage was a needed task.

I did email OMC yesterday asking if the rust through was covered under their warranty. I suspect that since this is a 2010 Bubba Keg with a 3 yr warranty the answer will be no, and that's fine. The grill doesn't owe me anything.

But I owe it some TLC after eight years of ownership or to at least make it look decent should it get a new owner.

First task: getting it off the stand! Some liberal sprays of PB Blaster and some whacks with a sledge and 2x4 finally freed Bubba from its stand. Ya know what? It doesn't really look that bad. Some pics -

The stand: (no wonder it wouldn't release Bubba)



I think some effort with a wire wheel and Rustoleum should take care of this.

The rust under the bottom vent (Bubba's upside down on his head to get the stand off):



Scrape back to good metal and repaint? Any sort of bondo needed?

The firebox:



Other than needing a good cleaning, it's in decent shape.

The inside of Bubba:



Here's where I was most surprised. I was expecting holes right through the bottom but this thing is almost pristine.

Bubba:



Needs a new coat of paint, I may just go with black to match the Golden's Cast Iron.

The intent of this post was to get some consensus as to whether this grill is worth saving, but I think I've answered that myself as a Yes. I could use some insight re: how best to handle the rust under the lower grate. Thanks!

Regards,
-lunchman
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Bubba Keg, Goldens' Cast Iron Cooker, Weber 18" Kettle
lunchman
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 01:23:01 PM »

And once taken apart, it's not looking all that good underneath.



I really don't have the time nor incentive to repair this, although it looks like some sheet metal and pop rivets would do the trick. I've offered it to someone who might want to tackle it as a project, but poor Bubba won't be seeing any more duty at my house.  Sad

-lunchman
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billsfan
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 02:03:25 PM »

good luck on the claim. I got my Bubba in 2010 and the bottom looked just like yours. I put in a claim in March of 2016 and they covered it. I did have to wait until December for the bottom.
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Dan
lunchman
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2018, 07:58:06 PM »

Thinking this through, the rust through is limited to this one spot, which can be patched in one way or another. So I've had second thoughts about either dumping the grill or giving it away and have decided to repair it. After all these years it deserves a bit of TLC from me, it's served me well.

Part of the reasoning stems from a restoration I recently undertook on a Weber kettle that my neighbor was tossing out in the trash. I've spent only a few hours restoring it back to good health and giving it a place in my bbq arsenal, so Bubba deserves the same consideration.

I know, I'm acting like it's a family member which I suppose it is. I've grilled a lot of good food on it over the years. 

I'll keep you up to date on its restoration.

-lunchman
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lunchman
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2018, 10:33:10 AM »

I fabricated some aluminum pieces to patch the rusted areas around the lower vent. They're riveted in place and there's some additional JB Weld High Heat epoxy helping to patch the holes. There's a build thread over in bbq brethren, but here are the final pictures of Bubba V2.0. Now sporting a black exterior.





Should be ready to go a few more years.

-lunchman
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lunchman
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2018, 03:34:05 AM »

With a recent refurb I posted in bbq brethren of a free Weber 18" Kettle, it was time to make a decision as to the fate of the Bubba Keg. A local member took the cracked Bayou Classic Cypress off my hands and Bubba's fate also hung in the balance.

Ditch it? Offer it for sale at a cheap price? Fix it?

I took Bubba apart and it wasn't looking that bad until I saw the rust though in the bottom exterior. At first I was going to dump it, but I've had the Bubba Keg since 2010 and it's been my go to cooker until last year when the Golden's Cast Iron was purchased. So it's mostly sat idle for a year with only a few cooks on it during that time.

Some before pics -

Bubba exterior, has lost a lot of its luster through the years -



Interior, not all that bad -



Fire ring, not bad either -



Stand -



Bottom exterior perforation, under the vent -



What to do? I was about ready to dump it, but decided to try repairing it. I figured I owed it at least that much since I've had it for so many years and it's been an excellent Kamado.

Rebuild pics -

Stand, after some work with an angle grinder and painted -



I picked up some aluminum and fabricated a panel to fit under the vent. Sure, working in stainless steel might have been better but I don't have the means to bend it and work with it so aluminum was the choice. It doesn't get that hot under the Keg, we'll see how it holds up.

Some metal fabrication. Two pieces of aluminum, one which goes under the bottom interior and is formed to allow water to drain outside the Keg rather than into the Keg. The other just to cover the rusted holes which are also patched with JB Weld high heat material.



Both pieces riveted in place -



It ain't the prettiest patch, but most of it is either under the Keg where it can't be seen or behind the vent screen.

Lid, with base coat of high temp bbq paint. Bubba is being painted black to match the Weber and the Golden's -



Final coat of high temp auto enamel -



And it's back together and ready to grill -





I'm waiting for the arrival of Nomex gasket material tomorrow from amazon. I'll give the felt gasket a try on the lid and base instead of the original oven gasket which was only attached to the lid (and only available from Broil King).

Anyway, that's it. The Bubba Keg is still part of my grilling arsenal. Hopefully the patch will hold and I can get a few more years out of it.

Thanks for checking out this thread.

-Dom
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lunchman
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2018, 04:02:05 AM »

OK, so I know @FocusPuller is cringing about the use of dissimilar metals in my repair. I appreciate the heads up and if it hastens Bubba's demise so be it. It wasn't something I had even considered, my main intent was to get the Keg back to a usable state and looking better. As a side note, there is a lot of JB Weld epoxy under the aluminum plate so hopefully that will act as a barrier between the two metals. This is the high heat solid stick which you mold into shape. Somebody else making a similar repair may want to heed FocusPuller's warning.

After taking the Keg apart, here's my theory as to why the Keg suffers from rust perforation under the vent.

Water drips down and because of the Keg's shape, runs in between the two layers of the Keg bottom rather than dripping to the ground under the vent. Yes, there is a hole in the center of the Keg bottom to allow any moisture to escape (see the pics I posted), but because the Keg is double walled it still gets trapped at the front of the Keg resulting in rust. It's simply an inherent design flaw.

In a ceramic Kamado with a solid bottom, any moisture drips down the front lip and outside the unit. With the Keg, since there's not a solid bottom, the water runs inside the Keg between the two layers and gets trapped, despite the center hole. I think the best remedy for this would be to fabricate some sort of plate that creates a solid wall under the front opening between those two layers to prevent water from getting inside the Keg. I've attempted that in my repair, we'll see if it helps (despite the aluminum vs. steel issue). One pic I failed to include in the post shows the curved piece which is inserted under the Keg's inner wall and directs water outside the Keg. Will it do the trick? Only time will tell. Keep in mind the Keg is upside down in this pic.



For me, this was an ad-hoc repair, it was the best I could do given the tools I have on hand. I'm not a metal worker, wasn't even aware of the dissimilar materials reaction. Hopefully it gives Bubba some additional life.

And on a final note, I did use stainless steel screws rather than rivets to reattach the bottom vent!

-lunchman
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lunchman
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2018, 08:02:30 AM »

In preparation for the Nomex gasket, I needed to clean the lid and base surfaces. I think @Uncle has used these gaskets on his Keg successfully.

To get the surface clean, I used the same method I used to clean up a Weber kettle I recently acquired - a razor blade. Like the Weber, I believe the Keg interior is porcelain so it's not going to scratch. Here are some pics of the surfaces. The lid was a lot easier to work on since it's been protected by the gasket all these years.

Scraping away -



Mostly done, even managing to clean up the rivets with the razor -



Complete -



I'll go over the surfaces with some rubbing alcohol to get them completely clean so the gasket will adhere properly.

A closeup of the vent repair -



As an fyi, that's a #12 x 3/4" Stainless Steel Pan Head screw holding the vent in place. I plan to add some JB Weld Hi Temp Sealant between the vent edge and the aluminum to prevent water from seeping back in under the vent. I noticed with the rain we had here in Massachusetts overnight the vent was wet on the inside.

I also splurged and ordered an official Broil King Keg cover for Bubba. After all my hard work I may as well keep it looking good.

So, that's it. One Bubba Keg restoration which should allow a few more years of service.

-Dom
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lunchman
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2018, 10:31:57 AM »

Better job on sealing the lower vent -




High temp gasket installed, will wait a day or so before firing up the Keg -



Three Amigos -




I'm happy to have Bubba looking good again. Hopefully the repair will provide a few more years of service.

-lunchman
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lunchman
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2018, 10:59:21 AM »

Bubba gets a nice cover for protection -



Very high quality cover, quite heavy, nicely stitched.
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lunchman
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2018, 07:36:16 AM »

Bubba Smokes Once Again

It's good to see smoke coming out of the Keg again -



No leaks around the gasket, which is great. And the bottom vent seems to be doing well also.

-lunchman
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ModernMan
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2018, 07:16:44 PM »

Nice job!
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lunchman
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2018, 05:42:41 AM »

Thanks! It was good to bring this Keg back to life.

One thing I noticed after yesterday's first burn-in, is it took HOURS for the Keg to finally cool down. Which means I need to do a better job of sealing the lower vent. Because of the additional metal pieces under it which aren't uniformly smooth, I know there are some gaps allowing air to enter once the vent is closed.

What's good about the repair is I can easily remove the SS screws attaching the vent and add some of that JB Weld High Heat Gasket material where needed. It's nice not having to drill out rivets.

If I recall when I first got the Keg I had similar issues until I added sealant around the vent, which wasn't easy since I couldn't get under it. And years of cooks helped also. The Keg is fairly clean at the moment and needs time to gunk up.

-Dom
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